Palestine and Colonial Dis/Continuities
– a Lecture by Joseph Massad
One hundred years ago, immediately after the British
subjugation of Palestine, Arthur James Balfour, the foreign minister of
the British empire, in a now historic declaration, assured the Zionist
movement of the support of the British Crown for their goals.
His paper, now known as the Balfour Declaration, is
considered to be one of the most important milestones of political
Zionism in the realization of its goal of a Jewish national state in
the former Ottoman province of Palestine.
In the context of colonial world politics, within
which Zionism offered itself as a bulwark of Europe against Asia and as
an „outpost of (white) culture against barbarism,“ the contemporary
Israel arose on the rubble of ethnically cleansed lands in the span of
three decades. To this day, Israel is among the bloody and unresolved
colonial conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries.
What continuities and discontinuities in colonial politics does Israel illustrate?How
much Balfour was there in the partition plan of 1947, in the war of
1967, or in the Oslo peace plan of 1994. Was it possible to solve the
problem of antisemitism by the creation of „a home for the Jewish
people“ to which Zionism aspired?
In his presentation, Joseph Massad, Professor of
Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History in the Department of
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies of Columbia University,
will trace these continuities and discontinuities by means of the
historical and current situation of Israel/Palestine.